My Bad Call

Blog Date: 
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 09:28

Over the weekend, I made a bad call. I was contacted by the field at the Silicon Valley Regional about Team 1323, MadTown Robotics, regarding a backup coupon they had turned in during the Semi Finals. My understanding at the time was that 1323 had called for a backup team for themselves, but had repaired their robot later and still wanted to participate in the match. I told the field this should not be allowed, as requesting a backup team, like requesting a timeout, is a strategic decision that a team must make, and there is no provision in the rules for allowing a team to change their minds later based on how potential repairs are progressing or for any other reason.

I learned later that there was some question about whether 1323 had intended to request a backup team, or had accidentally submitted the wrong form, believing they had instead requested a timeout. I contacted the team, along with the FTA and Head Referee, to get their understanding of the full sequence of events. After reviewing the information, I now believe the team had intended all along to call a timeout, but in the rush to get the form submitted, did not notice they were using the wrong one. There were a few brief conversations between the team members and the Head Referee during this situation, but with the Head Referee believing with good reason the team had requested a backup, and the team believing with good reason they had requested a timeout, they had different contexts for those discussions, so the full nature of the issue took time to reveal itself.

The team did submit their backup coupon, but had I believed at the time this was an accident, I would have allowed them to compete. While I can’t undo what has been done, as a measure of compensation for the team, I am offering Team 1323 a Wild Card slot to the 2014 FIRST Championship. Their original alliance partners, Team 846, The Funky Monkeys, and Team 2135, Presentation Invasion, have already earned their slots at Championship. With this offer, I am not attempting to suggest the outcome of the event would have been different had 1323 been allowed to compete. There is no certain way to predict that. The Winners and Finalists of the 2014 Silicon Valley Regional are still the Winners and Finalists, and this takes nothing away from those significant accomplishments.

To prevent this from happening again, we are changing the backup coupon to require the Alliance Captain to enter the number of the team whose robot is being replaced, and to initial the coupon. Head Referees will be instructed to not accept the coupon unless these elements are present. This should help prevent this issue in the future.

I apologize to the teams involved in this situation, and the community, for the stress this caused. I want to emphasize that I believe all key volunteers at the event were doing their very best with a confusing situation, and had the best interests of FRC at heart. We have some great volunteers at SVR. I made the final call, so the ultimate responsibility for the result lies with me.

Frank

Comments

Frank and crew, thank you for making the right call and accepting responsibility like a good leader should.

Great call Frank. Thanks for being open minded and ready to admit when a mistake has been made.

At our competition at St Joseph MI one of our alliance partners was broken. We intended to submit a timeout coupon but accidentally submitted our substitution form. We were given the timeout, but our alliance partner still couldn't return so we were allowed a substitution.
I wish that the alliance captain would be allowed to select a substitute robot from the remaining pool, not be made to use the next seeded robot. The alliance plan required a certain type of robot, the one we had was not a suitable match, so we were knocked out in the first round.

I second the suggestion that substitute robots should be selected by alliance captains. I believe this suggestion was already implemented for Einstein this year, and it really makes substitute robots a matter of tactics rather than chance. It's one more element that would help to stop chance eliminations that frustrate teams and improve the quality of events overall. It might also make more teams happy, since they would in a sense "make" final rounds.

I disagree......you should be grateful you are getting a third alliance partner back on the field. They could eliminate the substition and let you finish with just one partner. It is up to the alliance to strategize with the new partner. Even during regularalliancev selection quite often you dont get your first, ir even second, choice and must make adjustments to make your alliance work...it is called coopertition :-)

Frank you continue to impress me in the manner of which you handle different situations. Your heart is in the right place and you strive to make things right. "Glad" doesn't suffice to say how I feel about you being the director for FRC. Thank you for the excellent work you do and the positive impact you show through FIRST.

Outstanding work here! Clearly admit fault; identify the point of failure; implement a change, showing how it addresses the failure. This is exactly what we're supposed to do professionally, and the example we must set for our students.

Thank you for this statement - it is wonderful to see FIRST acknowledging where improvements can be made. I am pretty surprised we have not seen a statement or comment about what happened at the Orlando regional regarding the disqualification of the number 1 seed. Is anyone able to shed some light on this?

Thank you so much. I am incredibly impressed by your humility and readiness in trying to fix which has been wronged.

having first-hand experience with the chaos that is the finals, I can completely understand how this situation might happen - and the implementations designed to prevent this from happening again are sound. Though I was not there nor involved, thanks for the explanation - open and honest has become your watchword!

This is the responsible thing to do, so good job with that and it sets a great example

Frank,
Nice job - difficult circumstances - props to you and 1323.
Best,
Martin

I am extremely happy that this was remedied for 1323, but it does make you wonder why FIRST hasn't given 233 a spot as well.

I guess I have a different opinion here. Admittedly the only facts I have are the ones printed in this blog, but the team made a mistake and turned in the wrong coupon. Then it was compounded when the mistake was not caught until later, presumably after the match. Maybe in a different regional, a driver made a mistake and turned left instead of right. Maybe on another team, they loaded the wrong autonomous code. How do we remedy those mistakes? I think the original response was correct. (Plus, in dealing with the original incident and call to NH, the team probably had 6 extra minutes anyway).

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